A new film is in development about Roald Dahl called Pure Imagination. It centers around a specific period in Dahl’s life when his four-month old son Theo was tragically struck by a taxi, and the Charlie & The Chocolate Factory author went to great lengths to save the boy’s life. You can read more about it here…
Last week I found out that there was going to be a special BFG-inspired foodie event today at Sydney’s Koi Dessert Bar, only a few blocks from my house! Chef Reynold Poernomo would be doing a “rotsome” three-course meal and turning his restaurant into Giant Country. On a whim, I sent them an email asking if it would be possible to stop in to take some photographs. To my surprise they invited me to the special VIP lunch. How could I refuse?
I walked over this morning and was greeted by some enormous letters and a crowd starting to form.
There were dream jars hanging from the tree.
A nice young man offered to take my photo, which I promptly Instagrammed. (The hashtag was #rotsomebfg if you want to see what everyone posted.)
I was one of the first people to turn up. I was ushered inside and upstairs into the restaurant, which was decked out specially for the occasion.
The decor was very lush and green, which I don’t necessarily associate with the book of The BFG. But it does tie in with the movie’s version of Giant Country, and especially with Dream Country. They also had some ladders and shelves and a giant cog, which reminded me of Spielberg’s vision of the BFG’s cave.
A couple members of staff were dressed as ringmasters, and they greeted me in effusive Gobblefunk: “DOES YOU HAVE ANY CHIDLERS WITH YOU, HUMAN BEAN?” I said I did not, thus I was seated at a small two-person table off to the side. There were two different three-course menus available at each table, depending on where you sat.
Menu #1 was SWIGPILL (Squid ink pasta with pea puree, jamon & tendrils), PHIZZWIZARD (Exploding, nitro cucumber palette cleanser with mint dust), and ZOZIMUS (Chocolate sphere on a nest of crispy celeriac with surprise yolk of mango, passionfruit, and sago).
Menu #2 was SWATCHSCALLOP (Tender beef ribs with charred pumpkin puree & mushrooms), PHIZZWIZARD (same as menu #1), and THE SNOZZCUMBER (Pistachio mousse with caramel gel centre, lime yoghurt, matcha moss, pistachio sponge & green apple sorbet).
A waiter poured me a glass of water and asked if I’d like to try some frobscottle. Of course I would! I had no idea what to expect.
That was amazing. It was a sort of lime cordial made with sparkling water and little fruity bits, and they chilled it with dry ice. The bubbles didn’t go down, sadly, but the fruity bits did! It was a lovely effect and the kids nearby were amazed. To me it tasted of bubble gum and lime and maybe even some vanilla, and I drank two glasses of it!
I really liked the mirrors on the ceiling. It reminded me of the pond from Dream Country. Were we on the real side, or the dream side?
My first course arrived swiftly. I had the SWATCHSCALLOP – the beef ribs. They were incredibly tender and juicy, with a nice char on the outside. It was a pretty big portion too! I devoured it. It wasn’t the most kid-friendly meal though, and I noticed the little girl at the next table didn’t finish hers. I wonder how many parents ended up finishing it for their kids?
The second course was the Phizzwizard – the “exploding nitro cucumber palate cleanser”. It reminded me of Heston Blumenthal’s Nitro Poached Cocktails. I wasn’t sure what would happen when I broke through the crust…
No explosions, sadly. But it was tasty! Very light and refreshing.
And then it was time for dessert! The sun was in my eyes, so I switched sides of my table. I hadn’t realised that the waitress would think I was indicating a dessert preference, so I ended up with the ZOZIMUS.
Isn’t it pretty? For some reason I got it into my head that I needed to smash the sphere open, despite it obviously being two separate halves. The top was quite thick though, so in the end I succeeded in smashing the bottom!
It was wonderful. The yolks burst into mango and passionfruit puree, which I happily scooped up with my white chocolate shards. How inventive! To be honest, Chef Reynold was reminding me more of Willy Wonka than the BFG.
And then the man himself came out to address the very happy crowd of diners. We gave him and his staff a big round of applause.
I took a quick selfie with one of the ringmasters, who so impressed me with her fluent grasp of Gobblefunk.
As I was leaving, there was a few more surprises. I was invited to take the menus home, each of which has a BFG movie poster on the back! And as I descended the stairs, I was given a tiny dream jar filled with jelly beans. I clutched it happily as I skipped out into the sunshine.
Thank you so much to the wonderful folks at Koi Dessert Bar, Disney Australia, and Mango for inviting me along today. It was such a novel way to celebrate the movie, and Chef Reynold and his staff exceeded all my expectations. Well done!
Balloon artist Dustin Queary takes a photo of Sam Wood, 7 of Harrisburg, with the “BFG” balloon sculpture Queary created Friday, July 1, 2016, at Regal Cinema 13 in West Manchester Township. Balloon artist Dustin Queary used about 700 balloons to create a balloon sculpture of Roald Dahl’s eponymous Big Friendly Giant, in anticipation of the movie premiere on July 1.
Pretty neat, eh?
What a neat idea! The new version is called “The Guid Freendly Giant,” and he eats “feechcumbers” instead of snozzcumbers…
I’ve just seen The BFG, so I thought I’d jot down my thoughts while it’s fresh. If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s your spoiler warning!
I really liked it. I went in with low expectations, but to my surprise Spielberg has made a surprisingly faithful adaptation of the book. He preserves most of the good stuff, and even introduces some new things that work really well.
Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) is excellent. She’s incredibly smart and capable and brave, while still being believable as a real child. I loved that she threatened to run away, repeatedly. She’s not helpless! Sure, the bit about her dream was a little bit sappy, but I think they earned it by playing up the connection between the two of them. It makes sense that an orphan would dream of a life with a family and adventure.
Mark Rylance IS the BFG. They nailed it. His voice, the words, the way he looked, his beautiful crinkly face, it all worked. My only quibble was that the scale was slightly off, such that Sophie couldn’t fit in his ear. But that actually always seemed a bit weird to me too, so I didn’t mind it too much.
The look of the film was terrific. Giant Country could have been slightly more fantastical, I guess, but I liked the demonstration of how to get there. The old cars and tankers didn’t bother me so much; it makes sense that the giants would have stolen things to play with. (Actually upon thinking about it further – those vehicles probably all had people in them who got eaten. Yikes.) There’s a bit at the end though where the Fleshlumpeater smashes through, like, the wall of a church–at which point I went, “Huh? How did that get there?” Does that imply that Giant Country used to be inhabited by people? That it’s a part of our world? Or did they somehow bring a building over with them “for frolics”?
Which reminds me – I think the giants in general were very well done. Dahl’s original description was slightly problematic–I remember reading that his editors actually pushed him to tone down some of the racial elements–so I heartily endorse this version of them. The story makes it clear that the giants eat people, but it leaves out the long passages in the book where Sophie questions the BFG about just how many people get eaten and how the giants hunt them. (Probably for the best; I could see that giving nightmares to some of the kids in my cinema.)
I really liked the addition of the backstory for the BFG, that he had another child companion that was caught and eaten by the others. It makes sense, and Rylance did a great job of conveying his sadness and regret. (I did amuse myself by thinking of the BFG as Dr. Who for a moment though.)
And the dreams! I was so happy that they kept the labels on the dreams, and they worked in a way of relating one of the funniest ones. Those were always my favourite part of the book. (I’ll need to get the DVD and pause it at some scenes. I think when the BFG peels a label off one jar, you can see some others in the little box he pulls out.) The dreams themselves looked just like I pictured, and I thought jumping into the pond in Dream Country was a great way to show that transition to another world.
I pretty much giggled through the entire Buckingham Palace scene. It was absolutely perfect, and it might be my favourite part of the whole movie. From him crashing into the chandelier, to his improvised table on top of four grandfather clocks, to his cutlery of a sword and a garden fork… it was all perfect. Penelope Wilton was THE BEST, and I thought the added jokes (her calling Boris, Nancy, and Ronnie, not to mention the corgis!) were hilarious. Sure, the scene where everybody whizzpopped was a bit over the top, but the kids in our screening all thought it was the funniest thing ever. And truth be told, I was laughing too. 🙂
Okay, so what didn’t I like? For starters, I thought the BFG’s cave was a little too steampunk. He definitely had egg beaters and a trumpet in the book, but water wheels and overhead conveyors were taking it a bit far. Some of it was clearly stuff he’d stolen from the human world–like his boat bed, and the road signs he used as trays–butI found myself wondering about the giant pot he cooked his stew in. Where did he get that? Are you telling me the BFG smelts his own iron, somehow? This stuff all felt a bit more Spielberg than Dahl, really.
I also thought the scene where the BFG takes Sophie back to the orphanage was pretty pointless. The sole purpose seemed to be so that he had an excuse to explain about the previous kid, but we were able to work that out. I guess it also injected some tension, maybe, that the BFG was going to leave her there? I also wondered for a moment if maybe the Fleshlumpeater was following them, and would try to get Sophie in London. But instead she jumped off the balcony, he caught her, and then they went back to Giant Country as if nothing had happened. Pointless.
I’m a little sad that Jack the Giant Killer didn’t make it in. It always amused me that the giants were so dumb they believed this fairytale was about a real person. Of course, you only find out about Jack during the trogglehumper/nightmare scene, which gets moved towards the end of the movie. I guess having it happen earlier undermines the “arc” for the BFG, which is learning to finally stand up for himself. As it is, it makes no sense to give the trogglehumper to the giants at the end of the movie. It wakes them up but it’s made them all remorseful. What? In the book the BFG quietly trusses them all up while they’re sleeping, and the only one that wakes up is the Fleshlumpeater. Sophie stabs him with her brooch and the BFG tells him it’s a Venomous Vindscreen Viper in order to finish tying him up. That all gets cut in the film, and instead the army somehow manages to, like, shoot ropes and nets all around the giants even though they’re awake. It made for a really exciting sequence, but it seems pretty silly in retrospect.
And lastly, the ending. First of all, I thought for a second the army was DROWNING the giants! I guess leaving them on an island makes for cheaper visual effects than a 500-foot deep pit. As for Sophie and the BFG, I actually found their ending kind of sad and melancholy. So he goes back to Giant Country to be a hermit? I wanted to see him living in a castle next to the Queen and Sophie, riding an elephant and eating peachy fruits! Instead she just talks to him out the window now and then, and he smiles off in his cave. The poor guy was alone before, and he’s alone now. He needs companionship! I felt sorry for him. At least Spielberg still had him write his book.
What did you think?